Nat's Reviews > Meaning, Creativity, and the Partial Inscrutability of the Human Mind

Meaning, Creativity, and the Partial Inscrutability of the Hu... by Julius Moravcsik
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May 04, 2007

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This book contains an enormous number of typos, which is surprising, given that it is published by Stanford's Center for Language and Information. You'd think they'd care about that kind of thing.

Moravcsik criticizes traditional truth-conditional semantic theories because they don't account for phenomena like meaning-change, polysemy, and various kinds of context-sensitivity. Unlike the radical Wittgensteinians, however, Moravcsik's criticism is purely empirical, and he proposes a replacement lexical semantic theory (which is only sketched in this book) that is supposed to accommodate those phenomena.

He uses a lot of the same kinds of examples as the Wittgensteinians, but there isn't (as far as I know) any acknowledgement on either side that the other is working on roughly the same kinds of questions.

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Alfonso José Pizarro Ramírez My only objection to your review is that it is not purely empirical. In fact one could argue that it is exactly the opposite: he is arguing for a different paradigm in understanding language sciences. There are some strong paradigmatic differences with the establishment one could say. For example, the unit of analysis, the way to approach to lexical semantics, etc.

Nonetheless, there is a strong empirical commitment: he is not just holding negative position (as the so-called "neowittgensteinians" usually do): he is proposing a new theory of language, with specific directives for a fruitful research program.

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